Cost Per Person
The core focus of this week-long course will be developing skills to read the landscape. We will use big themes of biogeography, forest succession, and habitat to frame our knowledge. Through this five-day intensive course, participants will cultivate an ability to accurately interpret and understand the plants and animals whose presence tells the story of our landscape.
Montana Master Naturalist | 5-Day Educational Program
Hike Overview Continued
Instructor: Josh Arrants
The core focus of this week-long Master Naturalist Course will be developing skills to read the landscape. We will use big themes of biogeography, forest succession, and habitat to frame the curriculum. Through this five-day intensive course, participants will cultivate an ability to accurately interpret and understand the plants and animals whose presence tells the story of the Glacier National Park landscape.
Day 1: Glacier National Park
The group will meet at Glacier Institute Field Camp at 7 a.m. for coffee, introductions, and a course overview. Participants will discuss Glacier National Park and many of the habitats found inside the park. The group will leave for John’s Lake Trail, aboard a Glacier Institute vehicle. Here, we will begin our lesson on trees, visiting some of the largest conifers found in the park. The focus will be on identification techniques and the connection the Park’s trees have with their ecosystems and the other flora and fauna found here. The group will proceed down the trail to McDonald Creek to see how water, in all its phases, shapes the park. You will spend time looking at a Montana rainforest and the flora and fauna found in it. Lunch will be served in the field before returning to Glacier Institute Field Camp for the afternoon. Dinner will be at 6 p.m., followed by a short evening discussion about plant identification techniques.
Day 2: Flower Excursion – Firebrand Pass
Breakfast will be at 6 a.m. Afterwards, we will head out for Firebrand Pass, where we will take a closer look at the wildflowers of Glacier National Park’s eastern prairies. The class will build plant identification skills (advancing skills learned on Day 1) to look at how plants fit into the story of the park. Lunch will be enjoyed out in the field. We will continue flower exploration throughout the afternoon, then return to Glacier Institute Field Camp for dinner at 6 p.m. After dinner, there will be an evening lecture covering the native birds of Glacier. A guest speaker from Glacier National Park, Jami Belt, Citizen Science Program Director, will discuss some of the research being conducted in the park.
Day 3: Birding Exploration – Inside North Fork Road
Breakfast will be at 6 a.m. The class will then load up and leave for the Inside North Fork Road and the Camas Creek Trailhead to search for birds. You will learn to identify birds of this part of the park, by sight and sound. While we will be focusing on bird habitats, diet, and field identification techniques, the bird’s larger relationship with the park will be an ongoing theme. We will have lunch on the trail, before continuing onward to Christenson Meadow. Here, the group will continue their bird search. We will return to Glacier Institute Field Camp in the afternoon. Dinner will be served at 6 p.m. After dinner, there will be a guest speaker from the Glacier Institute. Garrett Tovey, Director of Education, will join us to discuss his work with bears, wolves and other mammals found in Glacier National Park. Garrett will bring skulls and other items to give you an up-close look at the physiology of some of the most iconic animals in North America.
Day 4: Naturalist Exploration and Final Exam
Breakfast will be at 6 a.m. The group will then depart for Rockwell Falls, in Two Medicine Valley. Along the trail, we will have a naturalist exploration in which we will review what we’ve discussed throughout the week. The lessons of how all phases of water have shaped the park, with majestic results, will be revisited. The group will have lunch in the field before returning to Glacier Institute Field Camp for the final review and the final exam. Dinner will be served at 6 p.m. followed by a celebratory campfire.
Day 5: Course Wrap-up and Citizen Science
Breakfast will be served at 6 a.m. followed by a discussion on “Citizen Science” opportunities. We will have lunch at Glacier Institute Field Camp and then take an afternoon stroll around camp and Lake McDonald. We will discuss highlights from the week and talk about how participants can apply Master Naturalist techniques to projects beyond the classroom.
Four nights of lodging are included with the Glacier Institute course fee. Our student cabins are basic, hostel-style cabins with 5 single beds, bedside lights, and electrical outlets. Students should be prepared to share a cabin with up to 4 other people, Cabins are separated by gender. Couples may be paired up in the event there is ample space. We provide a bottom sheet for your bed as well as a pillow and pillowcase, but please bring a warm sleeping bag/linens. Be sure to bring a flashlight or headlamp for night trips to the bathroom.
You will receive a complete Glacier Institute Field Camp gear list once you register. The most important items are comfortable hiking shoes, at least 1–2-liter water bottle, backpack, rain gear, hat and sunscreen. Weather in Glacier National Park is notorious for changing, so please be prepared with appropriate clothing to create warm layers. Feel free to bring a magnifying glass or small field lens. Binoculars are recommended for spotting wildlife. Bringing wildflower field guides, and birding guides are also encouraged. Also, bring a suitable field notebook for taking notes and creating field sketches.
Moderate. Hiking in Glacier Park, the distance will cover up to five miles per day, with less than 500 feet of elevation change.
We will be hiking on various trails at an easy pace, there will be frequent stops to identify plants and animals of Glacier National Park. Hiking distance covers less than five miles per day, with less than 500 feet of elevation change.
- This program meets at Glacier Institute Field Camp, West Glacier.
- The program will begin 7 a.m. on day 1 and ends at 4 p.m. on the final day. Please arrive 15 minutes early.
- There is a maximum number of 13 hikers per trip.
- This program has a minimum guest count of 3 people. In the unlikely case we don’t reach that number, you will be notified prior to the event.
What to Bring
Please remember that weather in NW Montana during all seasons can change quickly from warm and sunny to freezing at any time of the year. We recommend checking the weather prior to your trip. Please also check your course information sheet for specific gear requirements in addition to those listed below.
- Lightweight hiking boots or a sturdy pair of hiking shoes
- 2 liter sized water bottle or Camelback
- Day Pack with plastic bag liner or cover
- Waterproof rain jacket and pants
- Sunhat, sunglasses, sunscreen, insect repellant & lip balm
- Camera (optional)
- Trekking poles, if you like to use them for hiking (optional)
- Binoculars (optional)
- Field Notebook notes and sketches